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What is in the Gibraltar Brexit MoUs? Here’s what you need to know.

What is in the Gibraltar Brexit MoUs? Here’s what you need to know.

The Memorandums of Understanding are agreed without prejudice to each party’s respective positions on sovereignty.

Nothing in them implies “…any modification of the respective legal positions of the Kingdom of Spain or of the United Kingdom with regard to sovereignty and jurisdiction in relation to Gibraltar.”

This is explicitly stated at the head of each of the four agreements, which in any event are effective only until the end of the transitional phase. Or December 31, 2020, unless otherwise agreed.

There are four memorandums covering citizens’ rights; tobacco; the environment; and police and customs cooperation.

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Here are the core points on each:

CITIZENS’ RIGHTS

The MoU on citizens’ rights seeks to ensure the correct implementation of provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement protecting the rights of EU citizens.

In effect, it will ensure that EU residents in Gibraltar and EU cross-frontier workers will continue to enjoy the rights and protections they currently enjoy under EU law.

A Joint Coordinating Committee will be established to oversee the implementation of the provisions of the divorce to citizens and workers in Gibraltar and the Campo.

The committee will be made up of six Gibraltar Government representatives and one UK Government official on the UK side. On the Spanish side, it will include four central government representatives, two from the Junta de Andalucia and one from the local administration.

The committee will meet at least quarterly and will report to the Specialised Committee that oversees the wider withdrawal agreement.

This is the only one of the four MoUs that is not time-limited, given that the rights on individuals are set out in the wider Withdrawal Agreement and will extend beyond the transitional period.

TOBACCO

Gibraltar will ensure that by June 30, 2020, the differential in the retail price of tobacco between Gibraltar and Spain will be no more than 32%. The current price differential ranges from 25% to 48%, depending on the brand or type of product.

Gibraltar’s competent authorities will set the minimum retail prices for each category of tobacco on a quarterly basis and the reduction of the differential will be gradual between now and June 30, 2020.

The parties will share information on traceability and work to combat tobacco-related smuggling in the area.

The MoU will cease to have effect on December 31, 2020 unless the parties agree otherwise.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the Gibraltar Government, which has increased tobacco prices by 148% since coming into office in 2015, said the deal was focused on the retail price of tobacco, not on duties payable on tobacco products.

He said the government did not expect tax revenues from tobacco products to fall, adding that past experience showed that price increases led to a drop in overall sales but a parallel increase in tax revenues.

The implementation of this MoU will be overseen by a committee established under a separate MoU on police and customs cooperation.

POLICE AND CUSTOMS COOPERATION

Gibraltar, the UK and Spain will intensify cooperation on law enforcement and customs matters, supporting the common fight against international crime and the mutual commitment to guarantee safe, secure and prosperous communities in both Gibraltar and the surrounding area, in particular the Campo de Gibraltar.

In the MoUs, the governments declare “deep commitment to close cooperation” for the “correct application” of criminal and customs laws in order to prevent and combat criminal offences and infringements of the criminal and customs laws applicable in Gibraltar and in the surrounding area.

Such cooperation will be inspired by principles and mechanisms of administrative and police cooperation set out in the criminal and customs laws in force in the European Union.

The MoU sets out a broad framework for police cooperation to tackle all sorts of crime – ranging to traffic offences to smuggling, cybercrime and “illegal fishing” – and enhance security cooperation.

There is a commitment too to enhance mechanisms for sharing information on individuals and criminal groups suspected of committing offences, as well as on financial and asset investigations.
Police authorities may also jointly develop operational procedures and protocols to facilitate cooperation in practice.

The MoU also sets out goals to enhance cooperation on customs matters along the same lines, including the sharing of information and developing action protocols.

The MoU, which was signed by the Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borell and the UK de facto Deputy Prime Minister, David Lidington, specifically acknowledges “the criminal legislation in force in Gibraltar”.

“It is explicit recognition of the jurisdiction and legislative capacity of the Gibraltar Government and its competent authorities,” Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said.

A Joint Coordination Committee will be established bringing together representatives from Gibraltar’s law enforcement agencies and competent authorities, a representative of the Foreign Office and representatives from the equivalent Spanish agencies. The EU will also be invited to participate.

The purpose of the committee will be to ensure the greatest effectiveness in police and customs cooperation including exploring options for strengthening that cooperation in future.

It will report to the Specialised Committee set up between the EU and the UK to oversee the implementation of the wider Withdrawal Agreement.

ENVIRONMENT

The MoU on environmental cooperation starts off setting out shared goals on environmental protection in Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar, as well as sustainable economic and social development.

It recognises that cooperation between competent authorities on either side of the border is essential to ensure these goals are achieved.

The MoU envisages the creation of a Technical and Coordination Committee, composed of competent authorities here and in Spain and with a five-month rotating chair. The committee will also have representatives from the UK and Spanish government, with the EU also invited to participate.

“The competent authorities will perform their functions hereunder in the utmost good faith and in the sole interest of the protection and the improvement of the environment,” the MoU states.

It will report to the Specialised Committee set up between the EU and the UK to oversee the implementation of the wider Withdrawal Agreement.

It will share information on issues such as air quality, the impact of projects – proposed and past alike – that could have a transboundary environmental impact, water quality and the marine environment.

The Committee itself will have no decision-making powers but will act as an information-exchange and coordination platform.

The MoU envisages, for example, that the committee be informed should any EU or UK research vessel plan to carry out scientific tests in the area of Gibraltar or the Campo.

“Scientific research vessels of EU or UK flag which intend to carry out their activities in that area will inform [the Committee] of their route, duration, objectives and any other matter the Committee will consider relevant with reasonable notice before the beginning of the activities,” the MoU states.

“The TCC will note the information provided. The Committee will receive a copy of the findings of the research activities.”

The Committee will also provide a forum for “the discussion of fishing activities”, although it does not set out any steps to be taken on this issue. It also makes a similar reference to bunkering, reclamations and the handling of solid wastes and rubble.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the Committee would offer opportunities to enhance cooperation, share data and “clear some of the myths” about how Gibraltar’s approaches environmental issues.

“I think we have a good story to tell,” he said.

The MoU will end on December 31, 2020, unless otherwise agreed.

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Brian Reyes
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